Fall Trout Fishing in Branson, MO

I had a chance to do some trout fishing this weekend down in Branson, Missouri with my Dad. We elected to leave Friday hoping to get some time in at the river before sundown. To our misfortune, the water was very high and we did not do so well early in the evening. I am just learning how to read the charts and get on-line information for the water generation on Taneycomo. Late in the evening though, the water flow slowed and we could get some fly fishing in, in the dark.

I love throwing streamers and had just picked up some weighted tip fly line with a 2nd reel, at the suggestion of my brother. I switched reels on my 9 ft 8 wt. Sage Fly rod, and went with the weighted line and streamers. I started with “big and green” streamers because that was what was suggested by the locals. I did not have much luck though. I moved on to black and blue and some with a little red/purple in them and finally, started to pick up some trout.

I got a few browns, but mostly rainbows. I got a nice 20+ in rainbow later in the evening. About 20 minutes after landing this one, I hooked into a very nice fish that felt much, much larger than the 20+ in. one I landed. I have not hooked into very many heavy, large trout on my fly rod yet. I took a nice 24 in. last year, but that is about it. I see a lot of large nice fish lost on fly gear.

For fighting larger fish on fly gear, my thought process goes like this:
(I have a thought process, because I have hooked into a few, and lost them!)

1. Once I determine it is a nice fish, I relax and ease up a bit on the pressure. I think I am putting too much pressure on them once they race off or get their shoulders in the race. I lose some right here and I see a lot of nice fish lost before the battle even gets started.

2. I need to get the slack line on the water out of the way and get to fighting the fish on the reel. This may seem silly, but I have had a few grab the fly and race off so fast, that once the rod tip is played down and the slack line is taken up, when the line comes tight to the reel, I lose them due to the impact. Yup, that is a freaky fast nice fish! Left me standing there in the dark looking stupid! This causes me to lighten up on my reel drag a bit too.

3. I play the fish with my rod hand holding the line tight, while reeling any slack on the reel as soon as I can comfortably do so with my other hand. This generally occurs as soon as I realize I have a nicer fish on the line and I need to get my fecal matter compacted asap.

4. Then the game is on the reel. I can fight and play them well with my fly reel and palming the spool as needed. I think I need to lessen up on the pressure though and palm a little smoother. I believe my fly rod is putting more pressure on the fish than typical spin gear. I keep wanting to put lots of pressure on the fish, but I think I will back this down a bit in the future and just relax and take it slow. I have no problem chasing a nice fish around for a while.

This fish I hooked into was much larger than the 20+ in one I had recently landed. It had heavy shoulders and held tight to the bottom. No speedy run. I would say it felt a lot like a 9 lb walleye to be honest. I fought the fish on the reel for quite a while. I could feel it pumping on the bottom working its way slowly away from me. It was taking line slowly but steadily. Just as I was thinking I should lessen up on the pressure a bit, the hook popped out. I would say it is quite a thing to hear me verbally express my disappointment after losing such a nice fish in the dark! I know when I was done I thought to turn around to be sure there were not any children present. I hear this is how the big Browns feel, but I have never landed a nice brown on fly gear so I am not sure.
I will say… I am hooked on the quest for landing nice trout on fly gear. I have lost two of these large heavy shoulder fish this year and losing them just feeds the desire to get back out there again and try to land one. It becomes sort of like a gambling addiction I guess. I just want to keep trying until I land one.

That evening, I had several hours to myself on the river, in the dark. It rained for a bit, then a heavy fog came rolling through. Fly fishing by yourself, in the dark, on the river after a rain in the fog is an experience to be remembered. It was just me, the sounds of the river and the feel of my fly line, stripping streamers.

I am a bow hunter by trade, but I must say, I’ve caught the fly fishing bug for now!

~ Jon

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